SAMOS



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Samos - ANCIENT SAMOS - The Port, Walls and city - The circuit of ancient walls

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The circuit of ancient walls

The energy and manpower that the city threw into up grading and protecting the port, and the laborious construction of the hidden aqueduct of Eupalinos would have had no sense if there had not also been a closed, protective enceinte of defensive walls around the city. At many points—especially on the mountain behind the town—these fortifications are clearly visible and trace able for much of their total length of 6.4km. Only the southern sea-walls are not in evidence. Two distinct campaigns can be distinguished:

   1.  the earliest walls, erected probably in the 530s bc under Polycrates’s rule, were constructed at the lower levels in polygonal limestone blocks, and then raised above that level in fired brick and mud; they had few bastions, and mostly arched or corbelled gateways. Some of the stone for the western arm will have been provided by the contemporaneous excavation of the tunnel of Eupalinos; but most of it was obtained from the escarpments to the west of the Panaghia Spiliani­, where evidence of ancient quarries can still be seen. The defeat of Samos in 439 bc by the Athenians under Pericles led to the forced dismantling of this enceinte under the terms of the armistice.

   2.  the Hellenistic walls, reconstructed using the foundations of the earlier walls, were built again around 300 bc, under the auspices of Demetrius ‘Poliorcetes’ (the ‘Besieger of Cities’), this time in isodomic masonry composed of large rectangular blocks, often as much as 1.5m long. The enceinte was now endowed with over 30 towers or bastions (some square and some polygonal in section), which protected massive lintel-and-post gateways, which still preserve the deep slots for fixing the gates. In places these walls were later repaired during the 2nd century bc.

   Long sections of the enceinte can be walked—along the east, north and west sides over the hill behind the city. The two periods of walls and gates can be clearly seen and compared in the eastern sector above the port (reached by taking the left turn for Mytilinii­, one kilometre out of Pythagoreio, and continuing uphill for 400m until the road returns west to the line of walls). At the summit of the hill and down the western side (reached from opposite the Doryssa Bay Hotel) the Hellenistic work is relatively well preserved and displays more clearly the method of its construction: two parallel walls of massive isodomic masonry 3m apart, with stone and rubble in-filling. In the lowest reaches of the western wall, just above the old secondary port of Glyphada, which has now silted up and become an enclosed lake, a rock-cut ditch about 3–4m wide runs parallel to the walls 5m to their west (outside); this was left by the quarrying of the stone for the walls, and may have served coincidentally a defensive purpose thereafter. Most impressive of all is the well-preserved 4th century bc watch-tower in the northwest corner which stands to a height of over 10m, with the apertures and precisely draft ed corners typical of Hellenistic construction.

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Samos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.


access

Samos Island, Greece.

By air: Domestic flights are frequent from Athens – four to five times daily with Olympic Air and twice a day in summer with Aegean Airlines.
There also direct flights by charter from destinations outside Greece.
By boat: Sea access to Samos is also plentiful, but a little confusing because it is split between three separate ports: Karlóvasi and Vathy, on the north coast, for the larger ferries plying the northern and western routes to Piraeus, Chios, Lesbos, Ikaria, Thessaloniki etc;
and Pythagóreio, on the south coast, for the Dodecanese and southern routes,
i.e. the F/B Nisos Kalymnos (4 days per week)
and hydrofoils (daily in summer) to Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, and on to Rhodes , with the Nisos Kalymnos stopping at Agathonisi and Arki in addition, before calling at Patmos.
The summer hydrofoil service to Fourni and Ikaria (4 times weekly) also leaves from Pythagóreio. Crossings to Turkey (Kus¸adasi) run daily from Vathy, during the summer season only (Easter to mid October); thereafter more infrequently.

Samos Travel Guide

eating

Samos Island, Greece.

In Vathy, Christos (two blocks in from the water-front, and north of the main square) serves Asia Minor specialties, interesting salads, and good, fragrant wine.
The village of Vourliotes has several tavernas offering good mountain food in its picturesque plateia: less contrived, and more popular with islanders, is Pera Vrysi, at the entrance to the village. On the shore below, at Avlákia, the Mezedopoleío "Doña Rosa" has a pleasing touch of eccentricity, but nonetheless prepares excellent Greek dishes with localredients and good presentation.
Further west at Palaio Karlóvasi, the Oinomageireío "Dryousa", in the plateia where the paved road ends, is family run, providing fresh, home cooking.
The last true tavernas in Pythagóreio closed some time ago; the best remaining eatery there, with a pleasant view from its position at the beginning of the harbour mole, is Varka. For sunset views, however, few can match Balkoni tou Aigaiou at the south end of Spatherei;
while the taverna at Koutsi, up and west from Pyrgos, though not remarkable for food, is an unforgettable and cool refuge on a hot day, beside a spring below plane trees in the hills of central Samos .
Pure comb honey of high quality can be found at Melissa – a small supply-shop, a few metres up the main street of Pythagóreio from the harbour.

Samos Travel Guide

further reading

Samos Island, Greece.

Graham Shipley, A History of Samos 800-188 BC (Oxford University Press, 1987); Hermann Kienast, The Aqueduct of Eupalinos (Greek Ministry of Culture, Athens, 2005).

Samos Travel Guide

practical info

Samos Island, Greece.

831 00 Samos & 832 00 (Karlóvasi): area 477 sq. km; perimeter 163 km; resident population 33,999; maximum altitude 1,434 m. Port Authority: T. 22730 27890, 27318 (Vathy); T. 22730 61225 (Pythagóreio); T. 22730 32343, 30888 (Karlóvasi). Travel and in formation: www.samos.gr ; By Ship Travel, T. 22730 25065 (Vathy), 61061 (Pythagoreio), 92341 (Kok- kari), 37100 (Marathókambos) & 35252 (Karlóvasi).
Samos Travel Guide

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